Links 8/7/10

Apologies for thin links. Have to be up early for me on Sat.

DIY Air Quality Balloons Instructables. I want one.

Ice island breaks from Greenland BBC

In pictures: Discovering the wreck of HMS Investigator BBC (hat tip reader John M)

Deflation Watch: Deflation is Right Credit Bubble Stocks

Late Night: Jane Hamsher on Obama’s Boys’ Club That Won’t Listen to Women Who Were Right FireDogLake. I’m not big on gender stereotyping…but maybe this not playing team sports does have long term effects….

BlackBerry irritates spy masters Financial Times

Bank Of America, JPMorgan Chase Fail To Repeat Perfect Quarter Shahien Nasiripour. Couldn’t have that, it would prove the markets were rigged.

Wait A Minute — Why Does Mark Hurd Get $50 Million Severance When He Lied In His Expense Reports?* Henry Blodget

Greenspan Calls for Repeal of All the Bush Tax Cuts New York Times. I am certain Dean Baker and Brad DeLong will have a field day with this one. The article says Greenspan is to the left of Obama (not hard, admittedly) because he wants to balance the budget in a deep recession with 16.5% U6 unemployment.

What collapsing empire looks like Glenn Greenwald (hat tip reader Francois T)

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader blintrick). Via New Scientist:

Picture 2

This is not a gremlin – it is the world’s smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset (Callithrix pygmaea).

With an adult body length of only 14 to 16 centimetres, and weighing as little as 120 grams, the endangered pygmy marmoset is one of the smallest primates discovered. They are normally found in the rainforest canopies of South America, however this chap was confiscated after being found inside the clothes of a Peruvian citizen by police.

This marmoset will now recover at a primate rescue and rehabilitation centre near Santiago, Chile.

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  1. InsideTrader

    Look forward to seeing you on C-SPAN love! Hope I can get through the barrage of calls :)

  2. Kevin de Bruxelles

    I’m surprised a thoughtful guy like Glenn Greenwald would make such an unsubstantiated link between collapsing public services for American peasants and a collapse of America’s global (indirect) imperial realm. Is there really a historic link between the quality of a nation’s services to its citizens and its global power? If so the Scandinavian countries would have been ruling the world for the past fifty years. If anything there is probably a reverse correlation. None of the great historic imperial powers, such as the British, Roman, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Mongolian, Chinese, Islamic, or Persian, were associated with egalitarian living conditions for anyone outside of the elite. So from a historic point of view, the ability to divert resources away from the peasants and towards the national security state is a sign of elite power and should be seen as a sign increased American imperial potential.

    Now if America’s global power was still based on economic production then an argument could be made that closing libraries and cancelling the 12th grade would lower America’s power potential. But as we all know that is no longer the case and now America’s power is as the global consumer of excess production. Will a dumber peasantry consume even more? I think there is a good chance that the answer is yes.

    Now a limit could be reached to how far the elite can lower their peasant’s standard of living if these changes actually resulted in civil disorder that demanded much energy for American elites to quell. But so far that is far from the case. Even a facile gesture such as voting for any other political party except the ruling Republicrats seems like a bridge too far for 95% of the peasants to attempt. No, the sad truth is that American elites, thanks to their exceptional ability to deliver an ever increasing amount of diverting bread and circuses, have plenty of room to further cut standards of living and are nowhere near reaching any limits.

    What the reductions in economic and educational options will result in are higher quality volunteers into America’s security machinery, which again obviously raise America’s global power potential. This, along with an increasingly ruthless elite, should assure that into the medium term America’s powerful position will remain unchallenged. If one colors in blue on a world map all the countries under de facto indirect US control then one will start to realize the extent of US power. The only major countries outside of US control are Iran, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela. Iraq and Afghanistan are recent converts to the blue column but it far from certain whether they will stay that way. American elites will resist to the bitter end any country falling from the blue category. But this colored world map is the best metric for judging US global power.

    In the end it’s just wishful thinking to link the declining of the American peasant’s standard of living with a declining of the American elite’s global power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this proven in an attack on Iran in the near future.

    1. Ina Deaver

      But the elite can really only project power to the extent that the peasantry are compliant, right? Surely you don’t dispute that. Fodder are needed for the cannons, and rioting and unrest at home distract from international aspirations. I think that the Soviets proved conclusively that, if you focus exclusively on power at the expense of social stability, even a peasantry used to being brutalized will tolerate you only so far. Indeed, the Russians have proved that a number of times.

      If he’s pointing out that the situation for normal people is getting ridiculous, I agree. If he’s pointing out that projecting force into Afghanistan while we shut own libraries and schools is incredibly short-sighted and stupid, I agree. If he’s pointing out that it looked a whole lot like this when Rome started going south, I agree. If he’s pointing out that a strong power an manage to keep its people provisioned while projecting force – again, I have a hard time disagreeing. Just because the Scandanavians don’t (this century) spend a lot of time on empire doesn’t make him wrong.

      1. kevin de bruxelles

        But the elite can really only project power to the extent that the peasantry are compliant, right?

        I addressed that in the third paragraph: “Now a limit could be reached to how far the elite can lower their peasant’s standard of living if these changes actually resulted in civil disorder that demanded much energy for American elites to quell.”

        In my opinion one cannot start to talk about imperial decline until at least some instability on the part of the US peasantry is shown. So far there is none.

        Fodder are needed for the cannons, and rioting and unrest at home distract from international aspirations

        Again I addressed this by stating: “What the reductions in economic and educational options will result in are higher quality volunteers into America’s security machinery, which again obviously raise America’s global power potential.”

        My point is that so far the reductions to the standard of living have had no negative impact at all on America’s global situation. And given the realities of American life and the ability of elites to control the conversation, the cuts will need to go much deeper before any impact is felt. So it is way too early for anyone to start declaring mission accomplished on the end of American global power. Things are not going to change until the day change is forced upon the elite from below. And from what I see we are unfortunately decades away from that point.

    2. Bates

      Kevin… I agree with many of your comments but I think a closer look is needed at why ‘the American peasants’ are unlikely to react violently to government actions; ie, closing libraries, canceling 12th grade, etc.

      Political and public relations (advertising) pollsters learned long ago that how people respond to polls is not necessarily how they will vote with their ballot or with their pocketbook. Since 51 million Americans receive Social Security benefits, over 40 million Americans receive food stamps, 2,949,130 are employed directly by the fed gov (as of 2008 and including Homeland Security), state and local governments employ 14,857,827 full time employees and 4,834,978 part time employees (as of Dec 2009).

      How many more Americans are employed by the US Military, direct contractors, defense contractors, ad infinum? I don’t know…but it’s a big number.

      All these government employed Americans, and Americans on the dole, are not likely to vote to have their rice bowl broken. Many millions more Americans depend on the spending of the direct government employees, and subsidized Americans, for their livelyhood and they are unlikely to vote to have their rice bowls broken.

      Would it be outside the realm of possibility to say half of the American population is directly or indirectly dependent on government employment or subsidy?

      Who is left to rock the boat? The medical industry? The financial industry…including insurance? The real estate industry (lol about that one)? The auto industry? Big agriculture? Just about any business you can name is in some way influenced by government payrolls either directly or indirectly or by government subsidies.

      In US elections 51% of the vote will carry the day for the winner. Are the ‘American peasants’ going to vote for their ‘core beliefs’, for a return to strict Constitutional Government and sound money, or for the continuation of their dole?

      One last point. I noticed that you left France off the list of empires past although France was at various times a powerful empire. The lesson taught by the peasants of France was so brutal, and so frightening to the remaining aristocracies of the world, that it is not forgotten to this day…Do not forget to deliver the bread!

      1. DownSouth

        Yours is the lament of the elite, a fear of democracy, and a constant refrain we’ve heard from the rich ever since the days of the American Revolution. Here’s how the historian Lance Banning put it:

        Much of the American elite shared Madison’s alarm with the “abuses of republican liberty practised in the states.” Many, maybe most, defined the problem as a classic crisis of relationships between the many and the few, creditor and debtors, rich and poor: a crisis generated by what Elbridge Gerry called “an excess of democracy.”
        –Lance Banning, “Madison, the Statute, and Republic Convictions”

        But the truth is that the alarms sounded by the rich have never materialized, have they? In fact, if anything, wresting power from the plutocrats, even in a democracy, has always been an uphill struggle.

        Many have theorized as to why this is so. “The stupidity of the average man will permit the oligarch, whether economic or political, to hide his real purposes from the scrutiny of his fellows and to withdraw his activities from effective control,” Reinhold Niebuhr suggested.

        But perhaps it was Madison who best articulated why your fear of the majority, or the “51% of the vote” as you put it, is unfounded. Madison observed that the body of the people do not naturally divide into two polar points, such as the many and the few, but into a plurality of groups whose multiplex variety can pose a stubborn obstacle to the success of any partial interest. The “only defense against the inconveniences of democracy consistent with the democratic form of government,” Madison argued, was to

        divide the community into so great a number of interests and parties that, in the first place, a majority will not be likely at the same moment to have a common interest separate from that of the whole or of the minority, and in the second place, that in case they should have such an interest, they may not be apt to unite in the pursuit of it.
        –James Madison, speech of June 6, 1787

        Have you not noticed how well the oligarchy plays this game? It labors constantly to pit black against white, public union against private union, black and white against brown, union against non-union, Jew against Gentile, middle-class against working-class, and so forth.

        And I find it confusing why you put forth the argument you do at a time when the oligarchy is enjoying almost unprecedented power.

        1. attempter

          Just over a week ago I wrote something on this dubious (at best) aspect of Madison’s ideology.

          An excerpt:

          This is a recipe for disaster, as they should’ve known even in 1787-8. A clue to the federalist pathology is how they’re constantly saying it’s the peasant majority who threatens the minority of their economic and alleged social betters; how the real threat of tyranny is from the bottom up. But even then it was the fact that throughout history tyranny had almost always come from the top down, the power elites oppressing the majority.

          And so it has been though American history. Whatever Madison’s intent, we can read this only one way today. Since at least the latter 19th century, the whole trend of US history, radically accelerating over the last 40 years, has been a double assault according to Madison’s prescription in #51, but inverting his proclaimed intent.

          1. The elites have constructed the corporate will outside society, as a predator against it, as the vehicle of class war upon it.

          2. At the same time they’ve sought to atomize the people, to dissolve all social, economic, and political bonds so that each individual stands naked, confused, demoralized, and alone before the awesome corporate power.

          This puts the “anarchy” passage in perspective. Here Madison drops the misdirection of playing off the terms “majority” and “minority” against one another and substitutes the more ecumenical “stronger” vs. “weaker”. Now when we read this it becomes clear that the predator minority is ”the strong”, while the vast majority of the people are expected to be the weak.

          1. DownSouth


            When it comes to protecting cultural minorities (religious, racial, ethnic, sexual, etc.), I’m a great fan of Madison’s theory.

            But when it comes to protecting economic minorities (the rich), I have my misgivings.

            And I’m at a loss at how to resolve this cognitive dissonance.

        2. Bates

          DownSouth… I agree with you that ‘divide and conquer (or rule)’ is at work in America and elsewhere. However, you seem to disregard that the number of Americans on the dole is an obstacle for the ‘American peasants’ to take some affirmative action to bring to heel the worst offenders in the criminal conspiracy consisting of Wall St, DC and the central banks of the West (and some in the East). It is obvious that divide and rule is at work but in addition there is the fact that a large portion of Americans are on the dole. There is nothing to stop the elite from using a variety of tactics and that is precisely what they are are about when they use ‘divide and rule’ and ‘co-option by dole’.

          BTW, ‘lament’ is not an apt description of my post. It is your word and does not convey the same meaning as ‘observations’, which is exactly what my comments were. To lament is to grieve or protest loudly and bitterly. I notice that you often add words or entire sentences to other’s posts when responding to them. This is a cheap trick and discredits your own comments and posts.

          “But perhaps it was Madison who best articulated why your fear of the majority, or the “51% of the vote” as you put it, is unfounded.”

          Once again you drift off into fantasy land. I have no ‘fear of the majority’. My observation was that so many Americans are on the dole that it is unlikely that they will vote against their self interests and in favor of restoration of strict constitutional government and sound money. Perhaps Madison had a fear of the majority…Hey, just because he was paranoid did not mean that the majority was not out to get him. Of course people are not rational and people act irrationally often…so, it is not impossible that they will vote (or take action) against their own self interest.

          “Have you not noticed how well the oligarchy plays this game? It labors constantly to pit black against white, public union against private union, black and white against brown, union against non-union, Jew against Gentile, middle-class against working-class, and so forth.”

          Yes, I have noticed divide and rule. Have you failed to notice that ~ one half of all Americans in some manner feeding at the trough of American governments is also a stumbling block to ‘American peasants’ taking action toward reform?

          “And I find it confusing why you put forth the argument you do at a time when the oligarchy is enjoying almost unprecedented power.”

          Oh, I don’t think you are confused. I think that you do not want ‘American peasantry’ to realize how much they rely on American governments for their daily bread. Or, as Shakespeare said… ‘Methinks thou dost protest too much”.

          1. Valissa

            Well said… props to you and Kevin dB for your thoughtful contributions to the conversation. That is why I read this blog. I enjoy learning about the world. I do not enjoy political opinionating much, even when I agree with it. As far as I am concerned, most political opinionating (left and right) is just whining that the world is not how you want it to be and blaming the other team for current misfortunes… and cheap digs is a big part of that. To use sports language, most political types, IMO, are “poor sports.”

            It’s alot of work to study history, anthropology, sociological trends and related subjects in order to try and understand why the world is the way it is. It’s much easier to parrot the memes of your political belief group and emotionally and self-righteously ride on the shared agreements and disagreements that brings.

          2. DownSouth


            All I can say is there is something very, very wrong with your theory.

            You claim that “the number of Americans on the dole is an obstacle for the ‘American peasants’ to take some affirmative action to bring to heel the worst offenders in the criminal conspiracy…”

            “Co-option by dole” you dub it.

            To which I say: Hogwash!

            I just happen to live in a country where there is little if any dole. And let me assure you, the fact that there is no dole serves as no “stumbling block” to “peasants’ taking action toward reform,” as you put it.

            Where there is no dole, everybody works. Here in Mexico, come good times or bad times, the unemployment rate consistently fluctuates between 3 and 4 percent.

            But look at the great jobs they work in!

            Almost a third of the population works in the informal sector. And the average income of these “self employed” persons? A whopping $237 per month.

            Those with formal employment fare better. Workers for businesses with less than 5 employees average $261 per month, and those with more than 250 employees $472 per month.

            And talking about “the criminal conspiracy consisting of Wall St, DC and the central banks of the West” (I call it neoliberalism), Mexico has felt its heel much more acutely than the U.S. In 1991 only 16.6% of workers were “self employed.” And in 2007, as I pointed out above, 32.5% were “self employed.”

            But those fortunate enough to hang onto formal employment have not been spared neoliberalism’s heel. Between 1993 (the year NAFTA was initiated) and 1999, the purchasing power of the average manufacturing worker declined by 20.6%.

            But none of this has inspired a revolution, or even political reform. What it has inspired is social chaos, an unprecedented crime wave and mass migration. Since Mexico has an “economically active population” of 45.7 million, I think you can see the estimated 12 million Mexicans who have fled to the United States represent a pretty big chunk of the work force.

            So Bates, I think you’re well intentioned, but your political theories lack grounding in reality. It takes more to make a revolution than grinding people into poverty.

      2. Kevin de Bruxelles


        I think you articulate well the reasons Americans are still loath to turn on the system. And from the elite point of view the strategy will be to turn up the propaganda emphasis in order to leverage the people’s perceived dependency on the system while paradoxically cutting this dependency by hacking away at America’s welfare state and transferring this wealth to among other things the national security state. Groups seen as potential threats to stability will probably suffer fewer cuts than those groups seen as less of a civil threat, such as the elderly. Of course I’m not cheerleading this process but one cannot fight something that one doesn’t understand.

        I’m not sure why I left France off that list. While France’s imperial failures in the 18th century may have played a very minor role in creating the situation that triggered their revolution, less than 15 years later there was a French Emperor ruling over a very impressive European empire. Later after this empire was lost on the retreat from Moscow; the French again built up their colonial empire in Indochine, North Africa, and eventually sub-Saharan Africa as well. What is interesting is that France lost this empire during the “Trente Glorieuses” (1947-1974)during which time the French saw explosive economic growth and a huge increase in their standard of living. While this doesn’t prove anything it is another example of how global power does not necessarily follow the direction of internal economic events.

    3. EmilianoZ

      I think you have a point. Unfortunately one should never underestimate the stupidity of the populace.

      The most depressing of all: we have this belief that education makes us better, but what I’ve noticed is that a college degree even from a reputedly good university doesn’t give you more critical sense. Most, in fact all the college educated people I know still believe there’s a profound difference between republicans and democrats and that voting for a 3rd party is useless. I stopped arguing with them. They only look at me as if I were some conspiracy theory parrot.

    4. michelisbanned

      Kevin, surely that is not the real problem? The argument is not, or should not be, that to survive and prosper, empires have to provide either equality or services. The argument ought to be that in the end, imperial power is only supportable by economic productivity. When this declines, when economies become uncompetitive, often because of imperial overstretch, then the empire declines.

      We saw this in modern times in Spain during the eighty years war. We saw it in the case of the UK in the early 20C. We saw it in Russia in the late 20C. We may be seeing it now in the US. The US may simply not have enough money to spend on the weapons that are required, may not be able to keep up with the growing economies that will be its rivals.

      If this is happening, then one of the first signs might be that the living standards and employment levels of working Americans fall. Recall the twenties. This was a period in which the British Empire was still imperial, but in which the standard of living in the UK was falling behind, and in which other economies had passed it in productivity. Flash back to WWI. Then a large part of the success of the UK was its ability to out produce Germany. Go forward to WWII, and that edge had vanished.

      It may be that the same thing is happening to the US. If so, critical as you all are of the US Government, its direction and state, this is really disturbing news for the West. The US is the only real power in the West. If the US is in imperial decline, then we are all in trouble. And if we do not like the US, just look at the alternatives. The US is awful, until you look at the alternatives….

      1. exclusion zone

        There are plenty of alternatives. A balance of power sounds very nice compared to what we’ve got now: an open society gone off the rails, extinguishing human rights and flouting international law.

        1. purple

          A balance of power is pretty much impossible in a capitalist world-system, because of the struggle for markets, etc. The system works ‘best’ when there is a hegemon keeping order. The problem is the US no longer can afford to keep order; it can’t sustain reserve currency status because of collapsing competitiveness in production and failed military occupations are bleeding the country dry.

          1. exclusion zone

            I don’t see it. Turn of the last century we had capitalism galore together with plenty o’ strategic contention. On the other hand, I’m delighted to agree with you about the superpower’s diminished capacity. Could be corporations are taking advantage of the dominant state’s weakness to suck the humans dry, and capitalism can only be reined in when the vacuum is filled – not just with power but with legitimacy too.

      2. Bates


        “The argument is not, or should not be, that to survive and prosper, empires have to provide either equality or services. The argument ought to be that in the end, imperial power is only supportable by economic productivity. When this declines, when economies become uncompetitive, often because of imperial overstretch, then the empire declines.”

        Can we please keep in mind that first and foremost an empire is a business model?

        In days of yore empires were in your face businesses. IOWs they did not attempt to obscure the fact that they were an empire…in fact, they gloried in being empires. Remember, ‘The sun never sets on the British empire’, was spoken with pride!

        Let’s take the British empire for an example. The brits sent out their navy and army to conquer foreign lands and then sent in well trained bureaucrats to set up very efficient systems to milk the conquered lands. A simple example: cotton from India was shipped to GB to be spun into cloth and sometimes made into finished goods…which was then sold back to India and other countries for a value added profit for GB. Little thought was given to the sweat shops and their laborers in the mills of GB and even less to the Indians that grew and picked the cotton in India. The labor in both countries worked in miserable and dangerous conditions and lived in squalid conditions. But, GB was a money making empire for some time. This is one example of an empire that did not care what the laborers thought or offer any safety net for the injured, old or ill.

        Rome had a similar model to GB and once the gold and other treasure was taken back to Rome the populace of the conquered were allowed to lead somewhat normal lives as long as they paid a tax (grain, etc) to Rome each year.

        Think about the business model of GB’s empire or Rome’s empire compared to the US empire of today… The US spends an enormous amount of dollars maintaining military outposts around the world and fighting wars in several countries. Where is the profit in the US model? Is it in the embedded in the 12 million barrels of oil the US imports each day? Is it embedded in world dollar hegemony? Is it embedded in the US financial sector that has global reach? Or, from other sources that are obscure…like printing large quantities of treasury paper that other countries accept for their products in exchange for protection offered by the US Military? I am curious about what other posters have to say about US profits from empire.

        1. EmilianoZ

          Very good questions.

          I suspect that in some ways the business model of the American empire is similar to that of the Mafia. Money for “protection”.

    5. rd

      I think the key point in the “Collapsing Empire” article is the one that is not made. The system for having a rational discussion of cost-benefit, present worth, and societal contracts between “ruling class” and “peasants” has completely broken down. without this discussion, it is not possible to have a rational decision-making process or allocation of societal assets.

      I am an engineer who has worked on road and other projects all over North America, so I get the “Gravel Road” reference in the aticle. An asphaltic concrete or portland cement concrete paved road is generally designed and constructed for a 20 year life span with periodic maintenance during that period. At the end of 20 years, it needs, at minimum, a new surface overlay with localized reconstruction of the subbase. In poor ground or heavy traffic areas, it may need complete reconstruction.

      Paving a road means that the decision has been made to fund this, effectively in perpetuity, unless there is reason to believe that the road is just in a boom-bust area, like a mone, where it will cease to be needed at the end of its life-cycle. As a result, these rural roads are just like Social Security, Medicare, the military etc. The long-term, multi-generational costs need to be thought through and allocated with tweaking as ncessary over the years.

      Unfortunately, government budgeting rarely thinks out to 10 years. Anything 20 years out or more is something for the next generation to worry about as we live in the here and now. The current debate about the Bush tax cuts is a classic example of short-termism – Bush and the Republicans could have written the legislation to extend further than 10 years, but they couldn’t make the numbers work, so they didn’t. Rationally, many of those roads should never have been paved – gravel roads are much easier to maintain in heavy frost or expansive soil areas – because the money to maintain and repave would not be there in the future.

      The real collapse of empire occurs when fighting internal enemies becomes more important than fighting and competing with external ones. Unfortunately, we appear to be entering that phase of empire. The inability to fund the past social expenditures is really just a symptom, not a cause. We have more money sloshing around inside government than ever before but we can’t make rational decisions on how to allocate it which could very well mean that the pie will end up shrinking over the coming decades.

  3. Just wondering

    Hey Yves, saw you on CSAPN. Just wondering…did you major in economics or finance? Any professional experience in those disciplines?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      If you’ve read ECONNED, you’ll see I take a dim view of academic economics, at least as it has evolved over the last 50 odd years.

      I joke that my undergraduate major consisted of writing long papers (in matters related to the period of the industrial revolution).

      I did specialize in finance in graduate business school (not that business schools are terribly academic) and won the Loeb finance prize (which in a departure from most academic awards, actually paid winners a large amount, I suppose to underscore the message that being good at the money game pays).

  4. Tom Chambers

    Just saw you on cspan. You’re one of the few economists that has gotten it right!
    What about Ravi Batra’s idea for a national property tax?
    Keep up the good work!

  5. lost and confused

    Ms. Smith, have been following your website for the last two years…Saw you this morning on C-span (also previously on BCN)…You really look uncomfortable in front of a camera, kind of like a deer in the headlights…

    Please loosen up and smile…you look like death warmed over…

    Really like your site along with Calculated Risk.

    Thanks for your efforts…

      1. lost and confused

        Wasn’t trying to be critical…Its just seems to me (maybe I am wrong) that you should just relax, calm down and appear more human with human emotions in front of the camera…Like I said, I appreciate your knowledge…and have and will continue to follow your blog on a daily basis…

        1. lost and confused

          Ms. Smith, I and everyone on this web site know that you are smart and I suspect most will agree on your analysis…All I am saying is that when you are dealing with the public, your stern and harsh appearance detracts from your statements…

          All I am saying, is that when you make your presentation to the world (C-span, etc.,) you have to get out of your game face which works in the board room and the executive suite and present a more human face to the general public…

          O well, just one person’s opinion…

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            With all due respect, you mean to help, but it doesn’t help.

            You assume I have a warm and fuzzy side, like most women. That’s gender stereotyping. What you see on TV is me, it isn’t an act for professional setting, it’s pretty much how I am. I am over 50 with angular features. I’m cerebral and analytical. I don’t have the foggiest idea of how to flirt and find it to be insincere and a waste to time. If I were any good at that, I’d be in sales, it’s much easier work.

            And if I were to show how I really feel? I’m pissed as hell. If you think stern doesn’t go over well, trust me, angry is worse.

            A 40 year veteran of TV (high level guy, had been on the board of national TV organizations, lots of production experience) recommends the hair back look.

            I’d need major plastic surgery and tons of acting lessons to be the soft, empathetic person you want. That’s not me.

          2. Skippy

            I needed a laugh, warm and fuzzy…good lord…I’m cramping now.

            I’ve posted this else where to day but find it apropo


            Skippy…I’ve heard lifting poles with dead weight upon them is good for one constatution and promotes longevity, both of mind and spirit. Seems some citizans would be proud to have less, do less, take less if only law was served, providing said dead weight to us all, on three lift.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, but I don’t do a lot of smiling on TV because I don’t do a lot of smiling in real life either. It would look forced if I tried. I can’t and don’t try to compete with the pretty smiling young blond women that are a staple of American TV.

      How I look also depends a lot on lighting, if the lighting is unflattering, I look crappy.

      I would be curious to hear from others whether they thought I looked serious (fine by me), stern (not ideal but still OK, fits my branding), or uncomfortable (not good, I was using a pillow to keep me sitting forward, the only one they had was big and it might have backfired).

      1. EmilianoZ

        My impression is that for some months you have tried too hard to smile. I really liked when you looked very stern, austere and biting. That goes naturally well with what you have to say.

        The photo on the dust jacket of Econned is very good.

      2. Pwelder

        Regarding the C-SPAN interview: You did fine. And some of the viewer calls were as interesting as your responses – they show what our fellow citizens are thinking. As you noted, they get it.

        One quibble: “When I was young, back in the ’80’s…” Give me a break. I was at HBS myself, when I was young back in the ’60’s. When you’re on TV, it feels like I’m watching Ken Heebner’s kid sister.

        (That’s a compliment.)

        Keep it up – and thanks for the blog.

      3. Andrea

        I’m sorta qualified to judge.

        However I live in the EU and know little about US TV as I only watch it infrequently. I’m a regular NC reader, have seen Yves in all the clips that were posted on the site.

        Yves did fine. She is a serious person, and very attractive.


        Hair back is not bad advice for TV.

        Always wear earrings – in your case they decorate and soften. A necklace (not chunky or garish) might be good too.

        Wear solid colors – but not loud, no bright reds, greens or blues, no very shiny material – these may create weird flashes and distractions or look incredibly ugly in function of what’s in the background.

        Or wear material with a small pattern — no big flowers, stripes of any kind.

        I’d avoid the business suit top, no need to accentuate the serious professional look. Or if a tailored business top, then with a frothy/frivolous something showing underneath, but that I guess is not your style.

        Plain white is dangerous, it can do weird things to the color of the skin above.

        I’d advise against trying to appear more cuddly – smiles, etc.

        Face work is difficult and often best avoided. However, moving the head a bit from time to time, to the side, i.e. down to the left and/or right shoulder, might be good, but not if it seems unnatural or contrived to you. The ‘deer’ look mentioned in the critical post comes from staring straight and rigidly into the cam.

        In this vid the text band obscured your hand gestures. From what I could see, that is a pity, because they definitely strongly complemented, accompanied, your speech. You might try augmenting, amplifying them a bit (without of course waving arms about etc. Watch Obama’s hands next time you see him on screen as a talking top half – not to copy him, but to note the importance.) This will make you appear more animated, less severe, stiff, more ‘human.’

        In the same vein, facing questions from callers, the public (not the interviewer or organisor) devoting a few words to compliment, acknowledge, or contextualise the point, will also contribute to a more polished, interactive, image.

        “Good point from Joe” – “Amy brought up a matter that worries many” “That question is frequently asked, and there are about 20 answers”, “Bill mentioned a crucial part of the complex equation, yet…” that kind of thing. I noted you only really took the caller comment into account when you disagreed with it, you should do it as well when you basically agree or ‘get it’ without going overboard of course.

        It’s hard. There is just a small quadrilateral in which to show oneself. In general, I’d think you’d be better off showing more of yourself, that is sitting or stepping further back from the cam, which most of the time is not an option.

        Thx for the blog, and thx to the commenters.

      4. InsideTrader

        You looked fairly serious, but then again it’s a serious topic, so if you came off as joking or jovial, it would probably misrepresent the points you were making.

        As for all this crap about smiling and your looks, you were fantastic. The hair looked fine and you come off as very beautiful and sophisticated. And, dare I say, quite sexy :) (Btw, any open graduate positions at Aurora :P jk)

        The “haters” are just intimidated by a woman who isn’t acting like a bimbo or whore to be listened to. You’re very well spoken and you should continue doing any interviews for which you get the opportunity .

    2. KFritz

      Judgmental comments aside, you point up the tyranny of the camera.

      Since the television camera and screen are the primary window that we, the voters, have on our candidates, it is essential that candidates for major office be telegenic. This restricts the pool of viable candidates to a very small pool of talent indeed. And I suspect not the best talent pool for the future of the country and the human race. The current POTUS, however he’s assessed, is exhibit A. The television loves him. It may love Sarah Palin even more.

      Anecdotally, I think that the way the camera ‘fattens’ almost everyone who steps in front of one, is a major contributor to the problems of self-image and eating disorders among young women.

  6. LeeAnne

    Fabulous Yves! and thanks to C-Span for providing a format that works for serious discussion and debate.

  7. Tom Chambers

    Could not disagree more.
    As economists go you looked absolutely mahvelous.
    Ready for prime time? The main stream media needs more truth tellers.

  8. John LaSell

    Saw just a bit on cspan. I’m incouraged by your remarks. Hopefully, you’ll be given more air time to help us all to completely understand the root causes of our opportunities.

    I believe that once the masses understand this, we can then take the necessary steps to change course.

    . If it’s me, tell me what I can do to help.
    . If it’s Wallstreet, how can we as a society neutralize or counter.
    . If it’s Corporations, how can we as a society target or differentiate the bad guys and either reward or punish the goor guys.
    . If it’s unclear, how can we force transparency and expidite justice.
    . If Government, I give up on both sides of the isle!

  9. Dick Morrissett

    Hi Yves Smith,

    I watched C-Span this morning and heard your comments on subjects about an industry which I spent 48 years working. Several things you need to know regarding the truth about unions. First of all, my mother, grandfather, two great aunts were all part of the Fisher Body sitdown strike in 1936/7 which formed the UAW. My mother was a seamstress and she told me the reason she participated was because there was only one womans’ bathroom and there were about 50 some women working in her area. They only had 15 minutes for lunch and no morning or afternoon breaks, and Fisher management painted yellow circles around their workplaces which if they stepped out of, they were fired. That represented a serious problem if you needed to go to the bathroom. Bottom Line, very bad management caused unions to evolve.

    Ratchet forward 23 years to when I hired in as a engineering student and I lived the next 48 years caught up in world of union madness. The pendulum had swung badly toward a horrible movement and basically unions won the battle but lost the war. Several examples which you evidently were unaware of might enlighten your knowledge base. After graduating from GMI as an engineer (now Kettering) in 1961, I was required to become a foreman to learn management techniques. On my first day, as I was introducing myself to my 44 employees, I learned there was a huge gambling system underway, and I was informed not to interfer. Well, my shop rules manual told me different, and so I reprimanded those involved, but within minutes I was a marked man. I was threatened with my life and had to leave the plant in squad cars and my immediate management told me to stay home until it cooled down. Many other incidents occurred during my 2 year internship, but another was when one of my employees took a new Buick Riveria and used it to destroy 23 other Riveria’s within the plant that evening. The union leadership regularily brought liquor into the plant and sold it to the fellow employees. Plant security removed this individual from the plant, but when I left that morning at 2:30, he was waiting for me and he tried to stab me with a knife, but I ducked and he only stuck me in my upper lip. There many such incidents due to the power of the unions, and 95% of these incidents met with no penalty and they got full pay while they were technically suspended. Many union employees who worked the machine floor could do their jobs in far less than the 8 hours they were paid for and so they slept in the plant or gambled which was against company rules. The union members were paid for every second they worked, while we in management were not paid for overtime. Most union members were paid twice as much as salaried employees on an annual basis .

    When you talk about salaried employees, let me tell you that I moved to Ford in 1966 and on November 23, 1974, Ford laid off 40% of its workforce. Those of who were left worked 18 hour days, seven days a week, and there was a period of 7 weeks tht I did not go home. My wife brought my two daughters and a white shirt to work so I could see them and change. I lost 36 pounds during that time. I averaged 3-5,000 hours per year for most of my career at Ford, as did many of my colleagues, and we did not receive overtime pay or bonuses. I ended up as a mid-level manager and was part of many teams – including the Taurus managing a multi-billion dollar budget. I must add, that during the Product Planning of the Taurus, we went to our two assembly plants and asked the management and unions for their input as those who lived on the job for 8 hours per day 5 days per week certainly knew more than a planner/engineer did living many miles away. Their input was greatly helpful, and helped improve the quality, reduced health issues, and took time out of the assembly cycle. As you remember, the Taurus was a huge success for many years, and I gave all the credit to the “TEAM”. One other point I would like to note, I was part of the recruiting team for Ford and we did hire from Harvard, MIT, Warton, Stanford, etc., and I was impressed with most of their intelligence, but most quit after one to two years because they did not like the 100 hour plus work weeks and frankly the Harvard classroom teaching models were not even close to the real world. You might be interested to know that the average life of a retiree after their retirement was 18 months – and that just tells you how hard they worked and the stress they were under. I guess the Harvard graduates were smart

    I think if you spent sveral hours with me I could give you the true story about what really happened that helped destroy the US Auto manufacturers (excluding Ford), and maybe that would give you a clearer direction for your knowledge base. Management made many serious blunders at all companies, and the greed of the unions played a serious part of the downfall – but you need to get your facts correct. I have read many books written by authors who wrote about the Automobile industry, who did not get good input and I think that has destorted people like yourself’s knowledge.

    That is the top of the truthful iceberg, but you need to get the facts before writing books, blogs, or whatever, so that future generations will learn what will work and what won’t, as they develop future products

    I believe in America as do all of my generation. But, I am worried that the current generation needs to get back on track or the America I grew up in will be lost to my grandchildren. Socialism will not keep America strong.

    Best Regards, Richard Morrissett, Founder and President, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2031 Golfcrest Dr,. Davison, MI 48423

    1. Doc at the Radar Station

      “…I averaged 3-5,000 hours per year for most of my career at Ford, as did many of my colleagues, and we did not receive overtime pay or bonuses…. …One other point I would like to note, I was part of the recruiting team for Ford and we did hire from Harvard, MIT, Warton, Stanford, etc., and I was impressed with most of their intelligence, but most quit after one to two years because they did not like the 100 hour plus work weeks …”

      It sounds like you should have tried to organize and/or join a “white collar” union. Just a thought.

      1. KFritz

        Professor Deming said something to the effect that ‘Americans work hard. Japanese work smart.’ See story of NUMI factory in Fremont, CA.

    2. DownSouth

      Well I just hope your hold on reality is greater than what this letter to the editor you wrote to the Chicago Tribune indicates:

      Palin’s ready

      Sarah Palin was terrific and completely won the debate. Palin’s command of the facts was clearly superior. Make no doubt about it, Palin is ready to become president. The team of John McCain and Palin must win in November, or this nation is going to be in serious trouble.
      — Dick Morrissett, Davison, Mich.

      1. KFritz

        Implies that anything written previously, however reasonable seemingly factual the tone, is to be taken with salt. (Lime would be a waste!)

        1. Bates

          “Implies that anything written previously, however reasonable seemingly factual the tone, is to be taken with salt. (Lime would be a waste!)”

          Are you implying that to discover new information or facts and to alter one’s opinion based on that new info or facts is irrational behavior?

          Why did you not address your comment to Mr Morrissett and see what he has to say about Palin and whats his name? Personally, I think that anyone picked from any berg in the US could do as well as the current administration. Surrounded by staff, Sommers, turbo Timmy and lobbyists, how could one go wrong? lol

          1. KFritz

            Forum communication problem. I was referring the quote fr/ Morrissett that you excerpted. Anyone who praises the Palin performance in the VP debate using that terminology is operating w/ heavy ideological baggage. No matter how dry and factual a presentation he makes, knowing that he evaluated Palin as he did means that I view everything he says through a prism of skepticism. Extreme skepticism.

  10. Dick Morrissett

    Unions were for wimps for my generation of engineers. We loved the cars that we were designing and building. I still get a thrill when driving a max horsepower Mustang. Life wasn’t all about money, it was having fun and seeing something you dream about become a reality. Engineers don’t get torn away with the so called problems of life, we look at them as challenges to be won with brilliant ideas. I offered our President my talent to look at the national budget to see if there was any opportunities. As I see it now, I could take a half a trillion our of Federal spending within one month. I will repeat, unions for for wimps – i.e., people who are afraid of handling their own issues, and they need someone else to do their dirty work. That is kinda like asking our Federal Government to go handle my personal issues – and the government can’t manage much of anything as far as I can see.

    1. Ivan Karamazov

      “I will repeat, unions for for wimps – i.e., people who are afraid of handling their own issues, and they need someone else to do their dirty work.”

      The cemeteries of the world are filled with indispensable men.

    2. Sundog

      Mr. Morrissett, I encourage you to listen to this excellent one-hour radio show on the NUMMI experience and contemplate whether management has the capacity to shift labor relations for the better without extinguishing the ability of labor to organize. (As an enticement, you will hear union members talking about their drinking on the job, rampant absenteeism and more.)

      I further encourage you to investigate the case of Germany, which has retained the capacity to innovate and competitively export industrial products even though the government accounts for a large share of GDP, environmental regulations are strict, and labor has significant voice.

      To the extent you actually have the mind-set of an engineer, I doubt you would discard an innovative material or machine because it wasn’t invented here. But regarding social norms and institutions (which are technologies), it seems the likes of you and Bates prefer to deny the concept of best practice.

      1. DownSouth


        That is a GREAT program! Very enlightening.

        There is undoubtedly plenty of blame to go around.

        I suppose these mid-level managers like Mr. Morrissett and Bates who played a role in these failed enterprises are just not capable of assuming any part of the responsibility, so have projected all the blame onto labor. They don’t tell outright lies to do this, but distortions and half-truths.

  11. Bates

    Dick Morrissett… You are speaking a language that most Americans no longer comprehend. I was at LTV doing retro design on F8U Crusaders and final testing of new A7s when the accident aboard the Forrestal occured. The Navy came to LTV and said ‘we need a lot of new aircraft yesterday’. Every week was 84 or more hours for the next two years and no vacations. No air conditioning in Grand Prarie Texas with temps over 100 degrees…I lost a lot of weight too and I wasn’t overweight to begin with.

    After work at LTV slowed I moved to high speed rail, automatic train control. It was hectic but not like defense contracts.

    Many engineers back then were job shoppers. When a contract at Honeywell or RCA or GE or General Dynamics slowed, engineers and techs moved to where the next big contract was awarded. It was expected by companies and was not a blight on an employment record. I haven’t heard the term ‘job shop’ in a long time.

  12. kevinearick

    It’s not bad enough these people have lost their jobs, homes, and families, and are being treated like children; now, the skinheads are being sent into the homeless shelters.

    So, there I am, in the gap in northern CA, with the bears, mountain lions, hogs, and Mexican mafia … funny, I didn’t see any skinheads out there. Did I already bring up Halifax? … the kid with the homemade gun and his mother, with no teeth, staring me down on the bus … anyway, there’s a street running in front of the police station down through the hood, and a white guy walking down that street at 3am, right through all the “gates” like they don’t exist; you would think they could add 2 and 2. Critters.

    A few tips:

    the Persians built a big chunk of the kernel; there is nowhere they cannot go;

    the old dc is locking the market-makers in;

    if the market-makers try to stop the mom and pops from pulling their money out, the AI kicks in;

    it takes intelligent energy to keep all those small black holes separated; no energy is required to allow them to coalesce.

    The Abutment Recap

    from God’s Mafia, Fortino, Lost Coast Press, Fort Bragg, CA

    I don’t get it Mr. Headmaster,’ I said. ‘Here I am in this fancy school and you tell me everything is paid for and all I have to do is study and keep out of trouble. I’ve been told that I’ll be expected to go work for somebody and pay some dues, and I could someday have my own business. He called them donations, not dues, but I know a racket when I see one. I was planning one of my own when I got out of prison. But I don’t see this education bit. Where does it fit in?’

    ‘Mr. Hamilton told me that his frame of reference had been laid down by Jesus Christ. He said there were others: the Jewish frame made by Moses and the Islamic frame by Mohammed, among others. They were all helpful in getting a better picture of life.’

    For no reason at all I said, ‘I’d like to go to cooks school. I’d like to become a chef.’ I suppose that my brief stint in the restaurant kitchen was now my principal ‘frame of reference.’

    All social programs in history have called upon the wayward ones to ‘shape up’ on threat of further punishment. They have been willing to provide short-term aids like unemployment compensation and welfare but no real niche in the socio-economic structure. That just doesn’t work. We know that. In this century we have learned that socialism and communism – which promise security if one just obeys orders – don’t work.

    … they wanted to ask him about his family and the early days of Hitler’s reign. They wanted to ask him about Auschwitz…

    I wanted in this record the fact that there can be a hell on earth, a man-made hell, a hell that results when government is run by bureaucrats who are absolutely right in their own minds beyond the shadow of a doubt even to the point of destroying those whom they serve.

    mine – if you wanted to build an army, how would you do it? They wanted code to steal; we left it in plain sight; like night follows day and day follows night. If they steal from you, take it as a compliment, advance 2 steps forward, and repeat. Sooner or later, you will be paid, with interest and penalties. Now, the entire empire hangs in the balance, attempting in vain to avoid the bill.

    Heads I win, tails you lose; that’s their game. We prefer win-win relationships, but if it’s win-lose they want to play, they may not want to bring a gun, a bomb, or an aircraft carrier to a computer fight, or build their empire on top of our code. Money is this year’s crop of oranges, nothing more.

    “Potentially we are all God’s stewards. And the world will get better when we are better stewards … the key is that it is a participatory process. It is the process of creation which saves people. It is not the process of giving. It is not a charity.”

  13. RueTheDay

    I think Greenspan has lost his mind. His argument is essentially that our number one challenge right now is fixing the deficit because the government is going to run out of money. Really. Not only does he think that fixing the economy and job market is important, he seems to think it will take care of itself if we fix the deficit. Apparently the financial markets are worried about the government running out of money and that’s what’s behind all of the problems. I’d expect this kind of nonsense from a Petersen Institute shill, but not from a former Fed Chairman.

    1. LeeAnne


      Your attempt to malign your betters and their motives is not going to work here.

      DownSouth is a treasured resource and talented educator on this blog while you’re a bullying Johnny-come-lately with nothing to add to the discussion in spite of taking up a lot of space.

  14. Petey

    I TiVo-ed your C-SPAN appearance, Yves, and just watched it. Three notes:

    1) I was amazed at how receptive the callers were to your viewpoint. I normally think of C-SPAN callers as skewing right, but other than the one virulently anti-union guy, the callers seemed quite receptive and open. There might be hope for the populist left yet. The electorate will buy the product if someone will sell it.

    2) You handled yourself well. There was only a gap of ten seconds between me screaming “Bring up Germany!” at the teevee and you doing exactly that. You answered the Obama question with perfect pitch. Overall, you were polite, on point, responsive, and very flexible in real-time. Kudos.

    3) I just have to say how weird and disorienting it was to see someone on the teevee telling the truth. That’s been an extremely uncommon experience over the past couple of years. It may only be C-SPAN, but it was still pretty weird.

  15. prostratedragon

    maybe this not playing team sports does have long term effects…

    Pattern recognition, maybe — the ability to spot manuvers while surrounded by them.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I was thinking of something more mundane, like training in putting up with crap in the name of team/group loyalty. A lot of women have lower tolerance the loyalty demands of most organizations. I’ve always assumed that it’s rational, as in the odds of succeeding (rising in the hierarchy) are lower for women, and out group members are often the first choice for scapegoating. But I also wonder if it is because fewer women got training in their formative years in putting up with the conformity and discipline.

      You raise yet another issue…

      1. Valissa

        The thoery about women and team sports does NOT hold true in my case. Growing up I was a tomboy and constantly played neighborhood sports on the boy’s teams (football and baseball mostly). In high school I played of the softball team and the volleyball team. In college and post-college I played competitive volleyball. I also played touch football. In post-college volleyball years I played in women’s leagues, co-ed leagues and a men’s league (there wer only 2 women players in the men’s league).

        Despite all the above I was terrible at professional and corporate politics as I have this annoying belief in truth and fairness which is much stronger than any sense of team loyalty. I finally gave up on the corporate world as I was incapable of conforming to it. However, it may be that I am merely a statistical aberration.

        1. Valissa

          Have been giving this some more thought… my experience of sports was that in addition to giving me as sense of teamwork, was that it instilled in me a sense of fair play and abiding by the rules of the game. I think this is probably true of most who played team sports.

          My most culturally interesting sports experience was when I was a referee for the men’s intramural vollyball league at college (I went to a mostly male engineering school with lots of fraternities). As referee you are responsible for enforcing the rules of fair play (probably equivalent of being in a regulatory agency). Being a referee in college is not for the faint hearted or those fearful of their social standing. However this was the 70’s, a kinder gentler time. And even though I was often vociferously threatened on the courts by the frat boy types, no one ever followed up. I had a reputation as a fair and honest referee.

          Having grown up playing sports with boys, I can take their sh*t and dish it right back. However, this did not lead to my corporate success either as I felt quite comfortable arguing my case with my bosses when I thought they were wrong. You see I incorrectly assumed they were operating in a system of fair play. It took me many years to grok that it’s a world of power and might, rather than a world of fair play.

      1. KFritz

        Girls do play team sports as much, and Title IX may contribute indirectly. Title IX governs university/collegiate sports for schools that accept federal aid.

  16. Valissa

    To turn the sports analogy in another direction and give the contrarian view… how many of the “best & brightest” of our economic or other leaders do you think actually played team sports? I was one of a handful of the kids with top grades who played sports. In my day it was unusual for the “smart kids” to play sports at school, as they were generally too busy studying so they could get into the best schools and “get ahead” in the world. Is Harvard known for it’s sports teams? I think it highly unlikely that Geithner or Summers ever played team sports.

    Another thing about playing sports in school… must of us were fun-loving and wanted to emjoy life. Eggheads were typically seen as overly serious and suck-ups to authority. My friends with PhDs are the most comfortable with hierarchies and systems of authority. That is a different kind of game playing altogether.

  17. rowlf

    I also enjoyed the C-SPAN appearance this morning and thank you for defending unions when they are being scapegoated. As mentioned in a previous post I have been around several unions during my career and have seen many good and bad behaviors in them but remain pro-union. The best unions I have seen are the ones that exist as suppliers of labor as they have impressed me with their high standards and professionalism. They also police themselves very well to control their image and retain their market. The worst are the ones that remain in existence only due to automatic dues check off and are married to weak managements.

    Thank you for keeping an open mind in everything you decide to study.

  18. gil emdozza zuntzes

    humm…. to our President and my good friend Barack!




  19. linda in chicago

    I just finished watching Yves on C-SPAN. You looked great, Yves, this is the best appearance I’ve seen so far! That fuschia is really your colour.

    As for the content, it was good to see the excellence that we all dip into, at any time of the night or day, perhaps reach a new audience of the non-“computerati”.

    All this back-and-forth about the value of unions makes me pine for a history of union labour in N.A., comparing and contrasting the founding generations (my grandfather’s) and the fed-up generations (my father’s). Any recommendations??

    1. Sundog

      I’ve also been thinking I should do some digging on the history of unions, but as a reflexive pro-union type (born & raised in Appalachian coal-steel country) I could probably learn more from the history of anti-union dogmas/ideologies/practices. Recommendations on those lines welcome.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The existence of the Treaty of Detroit, and a long period of all in all good relations between unions and management (management accepted unions as something they had to live with) has been airbrushed out of prevailing accounts:

        We provide a comprehensive view of widening income inequality in the United States contrasting conditions since 1980 with those in earlier postwar years. We argue that the income distribution in each period was strongly shaped by a set of economic institutions. The early postwar years were dominated by unions, a negotiating framework set in the Treaty of Detroit, progressive taxes, and a high minimum wage – all parts of a general government effort to broadly distribute the gains from growth. More recent years have been characterized by reversals in all these dimensions in an institutional pattern known as the Washington Consensus. Other explanations for income disparities including skill-biased technical change and international trade are seen as factors operating within this broader institutional story. <.i>

      2. Bates

        You will learn a lot about union organizing while reading Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’. You will also learn a lot of American History that has, to use Yve’s phrase’ been air brushed out of most history texts.

        Zinn’s History was and is the best selling American History book ever published.

  20. Deus-DJ

    I found Mr. Morrisett’s commentary and the subsequent finding of his comments by DownSouth to be quite amusing.

    Bottom line, Mr. Morrisett: Certain unions did at times go too far(it’s incorrect to generalize it to all unions), but why they did is never discussed. To simply state that “because they are unions they are bad” does not do justice to anything except the preconceived notions of the ignorant.

    One thing others don’t mention here, especially with regards to labor relations in Germany, is WHY they are successful with their unions while we(again, only on certain occasions) were not. (to prevent flair ups, I say in advance that this is not the only reason but THE necessary reason) The simple fact of the matter is that there is no government involvement here. Government is the key factor missing in preventing unions from going too far, asking for too much by their sheer political power. That isn’t to say that government is supposed to actively prevent unions from doing so, but that they are a NECESSARY INGREDIENT in the quest of an equitable society. When the unions and their leaders don’t have a responsive government towards regular working class americans, their power leads them instead towards more concessions from the corporations that employ them(as I say this I am speaking again to the negative aspects of SOME unions…but I’m still doing a disservice as the problems are much more complex than to say those few bad unions caused all the problems(at respective companies like the auto industry), when the very environment where concessions were passed was much different, and as Yves noted, things changed in the aftermath due to macroeconomic issues)

    An excellent book that reaches this natural conclusion was written by Roger Lowenstein, named(as far as my recollection serves)
    As America Aged

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      See comment above on the Treaty of Detroit. In the US, we did have the government as a party to the relationship between unions and management, and it worked pretty well for nearly 30 years.

      1. Deus-DJ

        Sorry Yves, I knew I wasn’t clear when I made my point. What I was trying to say was, for example, that we didn’t have a national health insurance program. Rather than depend on a program that helps all americans, the unions extracted health benefits from the corporations…which we eventually found to be the largest burden on the big 3, for example.

  21. skippy

    Are not…both political parties TRADE UNIONS. You pay dues, work for the benefit of its members (pyramid based), etc, etc, etc.


  22. Bates


    “All I can say is there is something very, very wrong with your theory.”

    If that is the best you can muster then you are over your head, need to hit the books, and rethink your hide bound position.

    “I just happen to live in a country where there is little if any dole. And let me assure you, the fact that there is no dole serves as no “stumbling block” to “peasants’ taking action toward reform,” as you put it.”

    Thanks, you have confirmed what I stated. I said that the dole IS a stumbling block to peasants taking action toward reform.

    “Almost a third of the population works in the informal sector. And the average income of these “self employed” persons? A whopping $237 per month.

    Those with formal employment fare better. Workers for businesses with less than 5 employees average $261 per month, and those with more than 250 employees $472 per month.”

    This is called global wage arbitrage. It is where the elites of the world (and Mexico has it’s share) would like to take the workers of the world. Is globalization a new concept for you?

    “But none of this has inspired a revolution, or even political reform. What it has inspired is social chaos, an unprecedented crime wave and mass migration.”

    You have just described a revolution.

    “So Bates, I think you’re well intentioned, but your political theories lack grounding in reality. It takes more to make a revolution than grinding people into poverty.”

    Pure nonsense. You do well when quoting the thoughts of others but lack the ability to think for yourself. Even a child could explain to you that the French revolution was due to ‘grinding people into poverty.’

    Besides, you are once again attempting to deflect the discussion from my original comments and substitute what you wish I had said for what I really said. ‘Grinding people into poverty’ is your comment, not mine.

    Why are you so terrified that the ‘American peasants’ will find out that many of them are wards of the state? I find it curious that your last post is missing the usual veneer and polish…the certainty that is evident in most of your posts…In fact, your last post seems to have an edge of frantic grasping at straws in it. Why are you so anxious that the theory of ‘only division of groups by the elite keep the people from revolution’ is the only one worthy of consideration? Why are you frightened of the theory that there is a second and more over riding reason that the ‘American peasants’ do nothing; ie, because half of them are feeding at the trough of American Gov dole?

    If you want to be taken seriously you should refrain from attempting to divert discussion from topic; ie, derail treads. To do otherwise is not acceptable debate, but mere trolling, and if allowed to continue will ruin this forum as a site for informed or speculative discussions…Or, is that your intent?

    1. DownSouth


      You’re certainly keen on the French Revolution and your Marxist-inspired political theory. But the French Revolution wasn’t the only revolution to take place in the history of the world, and Marx was not the only political philosopher. What you give us is a cherry picked rendition of history, custom tailored to fit your highly ideological and dogmatic form of thinking. The end result is argumentation by talking point, similar to what entertainers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck offer up. Rhetorically speaking, that may be effective, but it is hardly enlightening, and about as remote from critical thinking as one can get.

      “Even a child could explain to you that the French revolution was due to ‘grinding people into poverty’,” you bluster.

      There is some truth to that statement. But what about the American Revolution? There a revolution took place in an atmosphere of great prosperity and in a highly egalitarian society. How does that fit into your worldview? The answer of course is that it doesn’t.

      You seem to be stuck in some sort of 19th-century time warp, impervious to anything that came before and anything that came afterward. Hannah Arendt explains in greater detail:

      The idea that poverty should help men to break the shackles of oppression, because the poor have nothing to lose but their chains, has become so familiar through Marx’s teachings that we are tempted to forget that it was unheard of prior to the actual course of the French Revolution. True, a common prejudice, dear to the hearts of those who loved freedom, told men of the eighteenth century that ‘Europe for more than twelve centuries past, has presented to view…a constant effort, on the part of the people to extricate themselves from the oppression of their rulers.’ But by people these men did not mean the poor, and the prejudice of the nineteenth century that all revolutions are social in origin was still quite absent from eighteenth-century theory or experience.
      –Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

      To sum up, the current situation in Mexico is a highly unequal society where poverty is grinding down on all but a privileged few, and yet there is not even a whiff of reform or revolution. In the American experience the situation was just the opposite—-a very prosperous and egalitarian society where a revolution did occur. Neither of these fits into your highly simplistic political theory.

      1. DownSouth

        And I won’t delve into it here, but your theories on empire are equally as blinkered and simplistic.

  23. Ronny Calling

    I wonder if you people are part of the 40% of white americans that think
    that WARS, are ” GOOD, NORMAL AND NECESSARY” for mankind?

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